Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Dual Character of the Beaker Invasion

  • J. G. D. Clark

In his classic work on the Bronze Age pottery of Britain the late Lord Abercromby adopted the old division of the class of beaker pottery into three types originally proposed by Dr Thurnam as far back as 1871. In order that Abercromby may not be misrepresented I propose to quote the essential portions of his definitions. In type A, the ‘ high-brimmed globose beaker ’, ‘ the body is more or less globular ; the upper part, separated from the body by a constriction, frequently very defined, spreads out like the calyx of a flower and forms a brim or neck that almost equals the body in height. The sides of the neck or rim . . . are straight and not recurved at the lip ’. In type B, the ‘ ovoid beaker with recurved rim ’, ‘ there is no distinct demarca- tion between the body and the rim, but the one glides into the other by a gradual curve ’. Finally type C, the ‘ low-brimmed beaker ’, ‘ may be regarded ’, in Abercromby's own words, ‘ as a debased variety of our first type ’.

It should be clear already I think that in labelling his types A, B, and C Abercromby has given the false impression that we have three types of beákers, whereas what we really have are two types, of which one has a ‘debased variety’. We therefore suggest that a less misleading classification would be, for instance, A(x), A(Y), and B. This may seem a trifling point but we believe it has helped to obscure the proper recognition of the true dual character of the Beaker invasion of this country. We propose to substantiate the validity of our suggestion in the course of this short paper.

Hide All

* The type ‘B’ embraces a multitude of variations in form of which only one is shown in the diagram. All however partake of certain fundamental characteristics which lend some sort of unity to the group.

1 Ipswich Museum, no. 1920.

2 A flint dagger was found at Lockeridge, near West Overton, Wilts, with a beaker of the B group. Wilts. Arch. Mag. XLIII, 395–6. This area is one in which both complexes are found richly, and cases of intermixture might be expected.

3 The following A+C beakers come from the area : Green Low, Alsop Moor ; Smerrill Moor ; Grind Low ; Haddon Field ; Bee Low ; Sliper Lowe, Brassington Moor ; Monsel Dale ; Rusden Low ; Stakor Hill, Buxton ; Dowel, Sterndale ; Minning Low ; Blake Low ; Castern, Wetton; Stanshope; Top Low; Mouse Low, Deepdale.

In addition two ‘mongrel’ beakers have been recorded, belonging to Abercromby’s ‘hybrid variant AB’ : Stanshope ; Gospel Hillock, Cowdale.

4 The following B beakers come from the area : Cissbury (2) ; Downs northeast of Shoreham ; Kingston by sea ; Burpham ; Wolstonbury ; Devil’s Dyke ; Falmer ; Belletout, near Eastbourne ; Heathery Brow between Telscombe and Southease.

The solitary A beaker was found at Telscombe.

5 DrFox, Cyril and Grimes, W.F., Arch. Cumbr. 1928, pp.137–74.

6 Compare figs. 90 and 96 of the British Museum Guide to the Bronze Age.

7 Net Low ; Castern ; Buxton ; Gospel Hillock, Cowdale ; Dowel Sterndale.

8 DrFox, Cyril, Arch. Cambr. 1925, pp. 1124

9 Reproduced by permission of the British Museum.

10 van Giffen, Dr A.E., The Hunebeds in the Netherlands, pl. 154, fig. 81. Unknown to the author Dr Rudolf Stampfuss, remarked on the great similarity of the two pots on page 93 of his book ‘Die Jungneolithischen Kulturen in Westdeutchland ’, 1929.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed